Paris-based jewelry brand Dangleterre appeared on the scene last year, with sophisticated, richly colored gemstone jewelry that makes them surprisingly easy statement pieces. I sat down to talk about ethical jewelry and empowerment, with the founder of the brand, Ségolène Dangleterre.
After three years at the school of fine arts, Ségolène Dangleterre does not feel quite ready to start her own career as a designer, so she is committed to helping other artists and designers communicate about their work. “At that time, helping creatives describe and explain their creative process was a real calling,” says Dangleterre, who then ran his own communications agency focused on brands that bridge the gap between art and industry. . Over the course of her career, she refined her eye and developed a deeper understanding of craftsmanship, a process which dovetailed with her passion for gemstones and would ultimately result in her own brand.
“My mother was a very feminine and sophisticated model, with a lot of ’80s jewelry. They were big, with a lot of colors, and when I was little I was fascinated by her treasures.” When her mother passed away, Dangleterre and her sister had some of the necklaces in her collection recreated to wear themselves. “They weren’t from very well-known brands, just jewelry that we had seen around her neck for years. I realized that we have a lot of suppliers and manufacturers in Paris.”
The experience was the source of the idea for her own brand and she spent the following years planning and learning wax carving and goldsmithing. Dangleterre was launched in 2020 with a striking collection of generously proportioned rings and necklaces in bold lapis lazuli, warm tourmaline and the deepest onyx. With a growing e-commerce activity and the support of major French press titles including Vogue Paris and Madame Figaro, the brand is now ready to establish itself internationally.
And almost 20 years after school of fine arts, Ségolène Dangleterre feels that she has finally found her medium.
Tell me a bit about your work process. Do your pieces start out as sketches or are you guided by the materials themselves?
The first step is always the gems. I start to mix shapes and colors and then draw the frame, but sometimes the wax sculpting stage takes me away from the original idea more than I expected. My favorite step is when I stop thinking about proportions and comfort, and start tailoring the room the way I like it.
I design jewelry that I want to wear, my prototypes are always at my size; I want something that I can’t find anywhere else that is unique and daring. Sometimes I reconnect with that joy and excitement that you feel as a kid when you have something shiny, something that you appreciate and cherish because it’s pretty. It’s about being bold.
How did you develop the sophisticated aesthetic of Dangleterre?
Jewelry is fantastic because when you think about it, it doesn’t have any function, and that’s pretty rare. When something doesn’t meet a need, it has incredible power to bring you pure joy and pleasure. A piece of jewelry says something about you, your personality, your mood, and I wanted to create empowering jewelry for great people.
You pay great attention to shape and color. Are you drawn to particular themes in your work?
The natural world inspires me a lot. My parents met in Tahiti, Polynesia, and when we went there when I was 8 I was fascinated by the colorful fish with all their patterns, polka dots, stripes and color gradients One had big blue lips, another had fins like wings. Take Birds of Paradise, their nuptial dance is so amazing that I could spend the whole day watching videos of their courtship rituals. So much so that I made a ring called Paradisier.
The passion for stones is at the origin of your work. How and where do you choose them?
At first, I was very excited to travel the world to choose rare stones and gems, but eventually chose to work with expert partners instead, to make sure that the stones that I use are of ethical origin, with responsible practices along the supply chain in terms of the environment and human rights. This is also why I have built solid partnerships with RJC accredited suppliers here in Paris.
Why did you decide to use recycled gold in your jewelry?
The circular economy is today the future of any company, companies must set an example and be responsible in their practices and their products. We are very lucky to have a lot of new solutions in our industry, I am very interested in Fairmined gold but I choose recycled gold to further reduce the carbon footprint. Customers can also bring back their old or broken jewelry and we can recycle the gold and deduct it from the final price of a new piece.
Finally, I will offer both Fairmined gold and recycled gold. Even as a small player in this industry, I think it’s my job to work to make sure that practices change in the future.
Tell me about an iconic piece of your jewelry.
My most iconic piece is the Favorite ring (High), because it is both spicy and generous at the same time, I really like its energy. It was one of my first drawings, I had this pyramid cabochon and I created the drawing very quickly, it was instinctive. I love meeting people who love this particular piece, one lady told me that this gem makes her feel stronger and I love it.
It’s fun to see the different types of people who are drawn to this ring, people of all ages, all styles, which is why I love my job so much. Jewelry is yours for a limited time, when you pass it on to someone else, it becomes something else entirely. The intention I put in design takes on a whole new dimension when worn.
Your first collection included a nice exploration of rings. Are you particularly drawn to rings as an adornment?
I am actually interested in exploring the different archetypes of jewelry. For the spring collection, I created necklaces and bracelets with pearls, for example. But yes, I’m super interested in rings, one of the reasons is movement: the hands allow us to express ourselves, the way we move our hands says a lot about us.
A ring is a shiny little version of yourself. You smell a ring when you wear it more than any other jewelry; the weight, the texture, it always shows. It’s fascinating how people – including myself – can have such strong feelings and emotions about their rings.
Since I was 40, and because I work with my hands, I now have lots of little scars from the tools I use and I’m proud of their look. Your hands tell the story of your life, I think they deserve to be dressed.
What is your most precious piece of jewelry?
My most precious piece is probably the one I made from my father’s cufflinks. It’s like my lucky charm, I wear it when I need support and strength.
What new challenges do you have ahead?
I am working on a new series of rings. My main challenge is to keep a fresh eye on jewelry to continue to offer jewelry that is out of the ordinary, happy and powerful. I try to stay true to myself and cherish gemstones for their looks and colors, rather than for their monetary value.
The interview has been edited for clarity.